Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Report Card

Here's Anna June's report card for the first 9-week reporting period. Overall, we're pretty pleased and we know what we have to work on with her.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Pumpkin Patch

Anna June's trip to the Great Pumpkin Patch went off without a hitch yesterday. She loved riding the bus, as predicted. I got to drive 3 other chaperones and we had great conversation. But getting there wasn't the only fun we had. Here are a few highlights:

1. Lunch. This was what AJ looked forward to the most. Not only did she get to pack a lunch, with a juice pouch! - but we also just got a new insulated lunchbox (from UAB when I got my flu shot) and she was excited to use it. Also, we packed both of our lunches in the same lunchbox, at her request. So exciting!
2. We got to spend the whole day together. She was so happy about this, she quickly forgave me when I accidentally forgot that her Spanish lesson lasts only 45 minutes instead of an hour. #momfail
3. Pony ride, selecting a pumpkin, seeing animals and inflatables. Oh, my!

I really was glad it worked out for me to go, even though there were plenty of other adults along. She was very proud and happy I was there, as I tied shoes and zipped jackets and escorted kids to the potty. There should be more pictures, containing actual pumpkins, from my "real" camera soon.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Teacher Workday

Being in "big" school now, Anna June gets the joys of a few days off every now and then. Birmingham City Schools held a teacher workday this Friday, and Ben was gracious enough to spend one of his days off taking care of AJ and, hopefully, having some fun.

The first item on their agenda was to try out our new toaster with some Toaster Strudel.

Then, they were off to the Birmingham Zoo.

They sent me these two photos to show me what I was missing:

Saturday, October 27, 2012

As Promised

Here is the main video of Anna June's PTA meeting performance last week, as promised.

Avondale PTA October 2012 from SRG on Vimeo.

Friday, October 26, 2012


Anna June is one terrific kid. When her uncle Patrick mentioned to me that my blog often focuses on her negatives rather than her positives, I knew he was right. Anyone who spends time with her knows she is awesome, but she tends to act differently around us; for some reason, I feel compelled to give you a clearer picture.

I met an Avondale mom who works part-time at UAB. When she found out that I work full-time, she said,"That's so hard!" And I said, "Thank you for saying that!" Sometimes just getting that acknowledgement feels nice. Maybe that's why I write this blog - to validate my life choices and say, "Hey, it's hard as crap, but it's also wonderful and rewarding and we're making it, so thanks for your support."

As I tap this out, phone on silent,
AJ is asleep on the floor next to our bed. Here's one of those parenting mistakes I love to write about myself: routine is VERY important to AJ and when I mess with it, I pay every time. AJ was very tired after Nana's birthday party and she didn't get stories or a bath, but went straight to bed. I couldn't convince her to go potty. I let her go to bed anyway, and at 3 AM, she woke me up to tell me she was going to the bathroom. Then, she was too scared to go back to sleep, so she ended up making herself a pallet on the floor. An hour later, everyone else is sleeping peacefully, but I am wide awake. At least my blogging will be done so I can get straight to work once I get there.

Anyway, here are ten great things about AJ I can think of right now:
1. She has grown 2.5 inches in the past year. She's tall, y'all. This is a great thing. As I kick her steps tools around our bathrooms, I think she'll be done with these soon and will likely not need similar aids when she's an adult.. I was explaining what the P is for on a size label of my sweater and was glad she'll never have to shop in the petite section!

2. She is well-liked by the kids at school. Her teacher called to answer some questions for me the other day and told me that the other kids invite AJ to play on the playground all the time, and she gets along well with them. She's still shy about asking other kids to play, but has been doing better this week. Mrs. D told her that it must be her haircut - getting her hair out of her eyes let her see the other kids and gave her confidence!

3. She loves to dress up. We think she'll be a ghost for Halloween, but she will sometimes take her uniform off and end up in full princess costume in time for dinner. Note to self: look up how to get root beer stain out of taffeta.

4. She is a great conversationalist. She loves to talk. If we're not talking to her, she'll talk to the dog, her baby dolls, or herself. I'm sure there are lots of times at school she must be quiet, so this helps her put ideas together and get it all out. I try not to shush her too much.

5. She is very observant! She notices the tiniest bug or slightest smell. She likes the way peppermint extract smells, we discovered this week.

6. When she makes her bed, everything must be Just So. It is adorable.

7. She asked to wear her uniform on non-school days. This is also sweet. I think it goes back to routine and how she's overwhelmed by her choices, but still I'm glad to know she doesn't hate them.

8. She and her friends are learning their addresses. She asked me if I knew what street her friend lived on. As it happened, I did. "She lives on Bienville Lane," I said. "Yeah," AJ said, "That means 'happy place'" I thought that was cute, and also if she ever gets lost and can't remember our street, at least they could take her to Bienville and someone would know her.

9. Speaking of safety, AJ has memorized our cell numbers. I am relieved in a way, as I was when she learned to spell her name. If she starts texting me from class, though, we'll have a problem. :)

10. AJ earned 2 "Gotcha" tickets in after school care by being obedient. The teachers pass these out when they catch the children being really good or doing exceptional work. AJ evidently gets them all the time, and she doesn't usually tell us about them. Apparently, there's a "Gotcha Store" that opens a few times per year and the kids can cash in their tickets for cool stuff. But for K, the teachers let them choose an item from the teacher's treasure box when they reach a certain number for more instant gratification. I keep forgetting to ask what 4k does, but I am sure it is similar. I'm glad AJ earns then frequently, and it shows me our strategy of expecting good behavior, as our parents did, seems to be working.

This is about all I can write for right now on my phone. I hope this gives you a better picture of our sweet, intelligent, beautiful, and quite loved little girl. We love you all. And when my alarm goes off in 45 minutes, I'll try to remember there's a sleeping 4 year old on the floor, and throwing the clock would be a bad idea.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

At School

Just in case you wanted to know what Anna June's new* classroom looks like, here's a picture of her at her table, doing a math worksheet this morning. Yes, she was doing a math worksheet. She counted on her fingers and everything.

We'd also like to stop and wish AJ's Nana a very happy birthday. I won't tell you how old she is, but it ends in 0! Happy birthday, Mom! Thank you for being there for me (and Ben, and AJ) every single day, no matter what. If I have any good parenting skills, then I learned them from you and Dad. 

There's lots of fun planned for this long weekend - AJ has a teacher workday tomorrow - so I'd better get back to work to get ready.

*They changed classrooms about 3 or 4 weeks into the school  year, because a 5th section of Kindergarten was added. In Birmingham City Schools, having too many kids and having to hire more teachers is a wonderful thing.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Anna June, as all children do, sprinted through her first years of life hitting a lot of "first" milestones: step, word, birthday, etc. But now that she's bigger, I often forget she has so many more to go.

On Monday, her class will take their first field trip to the pumpkin patch. I was explaining she'll ride on the bus, and I'll ride with another mom to chaperone the event. She was suddenly excited- not because I'd miss work to witness the event (and be on standby in case of meltdowns), but because she's never been on a bus.

"I've always wanted to go on a school bus!"

She had a whole bunch of questions, like what buses look like on the inside, and whether they were more yellow or orange. She claims she knew they didn't have seat belts, but wishes they did (me, too). Heck, it has been decades since I've been on a school bus, so they might have them now.

She'll get her first report card the day after her first bus ride. We'll see if either one lives up to our expectations.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


Anna June pays a LOT of attention to what goes on, even when we don't think she does. Right now, like most of the country, we've been pretty interested in the presidential election. For what it's worth, we often read headlines and watch the debates just so we'll understand the jokes on Saturday Night Live, which we have to record and watch later, since there's no way we're staying up that late on purpose anymore.

Often, while we're doing other things, and, especially, when AJ is involved in some other kind of project, we'll watch our clips and laugh. This get's AJ's attention, for sure.

She refers to SNL as "That funny grown-up show."

She refers to Mitt Romeny as "That boy that used to be the governor of Massachusetts."

She knows the names of the President and First Lady, and she knows they have two daughters and a dog.

Ben watched clips from the Alfred Smith dinner in New York, and we laughed so hard that AJ now thinks that both candidates, "say a lot of jokes."

We have talked to her about voting a lot. Last night, Ben mentioned he'd like to go ahead and get her bath done while I washed dishes, because he wanted to be done in time for the debate. "There's another debate?" AJ asked incredulously. Honestly, the grownups couldn't believe there was another one, either.

I went to the grocery store instead of watching it. No matter which candidate promises to put more food on your table, neither one of them is actually going to go to Publix for me.

During bath time, I overheard Ben ask AJ about voting. We were both surprised that she knew and remembered you have to be 18 years old to vote in our country. She said that when she was older, she didn't plan to vote, which, of course made me very sad, but I know she's only four. Ben also, to his credit, started talking to her about how women did not have the vote until last century.

"Mom already told me that!" she told him. Of course I did - I shouldn't have been so surprised that it sank in. "I'm glad I didn't live back then!" she said. Me, too.

Monday, October 22, 2012


I went to pick up Anna June the other day and she had this coloring page all folded up and tucked under the strap of her jumper. She was eager to show it to me. It was a special "card" for me - as is evidenced by the "To Mom"

I don't know why she's suddenly started writing her lowercase a backwards and her J sideways, but we'll work on that. For now, I'll just enjoy my special card, that a grownup evidently helped her with. And I'll also enjoy sharing it with you.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Art in the Park

Anna June enjoyed her time at Avondale's Art in the Park yesterday. Our PTA had a table set up, and they sold candy bars and generated interest in our upcoming holiday card sale, which will feature children's artwork.

Also in the kids' area was a talented face painter, so AJ got a "mask" painted on. She went incognito the rest of the day!

Saturday, October 20, 2012


Anna June and the rest of the Pre-K at Avondale joined with the Kindergarten class at a very special performance at our PTA meeting on Thursday night.

There's a longer performance, but the PTA requested an encore, so the kids went back to the stage to present "That's What's New with Me," a song about the beginning of the school year.

Here's a link to the video of the encore. I will have to compress the video of the 3-song show and post later.

AJ is in the back, on the last row, in a black dress. I found out sometime during Thursday that they didn't have to wear their uniforms, so I grabbed a dress I knew she'd wear and threw it in the bag, and changed her in the restroom between after school care and the big show.

I think they did really well. AJ claims this was her first time performing, and she was nervous. I am sure it will get easier each time.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Daddy-Daughter Time

A few Saturdays ago, Ben kept Anna June while I went to a meeting. They had fun, and visited the "Park in the Park" event at Avondale Park, which showcased vintage cars. AJ had a great time, but it turned cold and they needed to go anyway.

They took lots of firetruck pictures for Grandpa!

(Update to post: instead of the link to the album, here are the pictures.)


Anna June is a very sweet little girl and will do anything she can to help, most of the time. Thursday morning she was complicit and not only made her bed but helped me make mine, too. She is loving and giving. I want her to stay this way, and I want to learn from her example.

Over the weekend, we had a craft bazaar at our church. Like all good church functions, there was food. Because there was a bake sale component, I decided to bake at least one thing. Our Friday night got out of control pretty fast, and, exhausted, I ended up just going to bed. On Saturday morning, though, I was faced with the challenge of feeding the family breakfast and baking something to contribute. So I chose muffins.

Originally, I was going to make these morning glory muffins, but only had two eggs, so I switched to some apple cinnamon muffins. They were OK, though I was a little short on apples. Even though they were still warm, I bagged them in Ziplocs and rushed out the door. Confession: I was so busy, I didn't even shower that day.

So, being that the bags were cloudy from the heat, they were hard to see, and they really weren't all that delectable looking compared with some of the other contributions, there were still a lot left at the end. I am not sure we sold any, to be honest. I didn't have pre-printed price labels. But they were there! I contributed!

I brought home the unsold muffins. Rather than take them out of the bags and into a more suitable container, I left them there, trapped perpetually in a moisture-lock bag. I have had them every day for breakfast since!

Today, I was ready to delve into the final muffin. I made it to my desk at work, and opened the muffin, only to see green mold growing on it. I was mad at myself for not taking better care of my handiwork, maybe freezing them or at least repackaging. But I didn't. So I couldn't eat it.

That did not stop me from being hungry. So I put a sign on my door and walked the two blocks to Starbucks. In general, I'm not a fan of Starbucks, preferring local independent shops. But Lucy's Coffee and Tea is several more blocks away, and I didn't have that kind of time. So I was off to visit the reliable chain establishment for some hot tea and a bagel.

On the way there, I mentally cursed myself for my footwear choice. I was wearing my flats, but these have NO arch support, and if I have to walk for any distance, I prefer my sneakers that I keep in my desk drawer. Foot pain set in halfway there, and I wondered if I should just turn around and go back to the building, breaking my no-vending-machine pact with myself (I've been vending machine-free since July 9, with the only exception being the waiting room when Ben had his procedure the other day. And that wasn't at my office, so I think it doesn't count.)

I persevered. I ordered a decaf tea and plain bagel as planned, although I eyed the cheese danish and some coffee cakes, too. I had big decisions to make. Toasted? Cream cheese? Regular or low-fat? To tip or not to tip for to-go counter service? (I did, and I tipped well, although I don't always.) Sweetener? Real sugar or fake? It was actually kind of stressful, but the atmosphere was just so darn pleasant.

Then I walked outside. There was a guy with a bicycle, who asked if he could get something to eat.

I sighed.

There was my hard-won bagel in a bag in my hand. My feet hurt. I was hungry, disappointed, and sad that I'd be getting a pack of peanut butter and crackers for my late breakfast. But if this man really needed food, I would give him what I had.

"Here," I said. "It's a bagel. With cream cheese."

Then, he refused.

"I don't eat bagels," he said. "I'm not picky. I just have to get me something to eat. I take medication. Antidepressants," he continued.

Adding details to his story did not make me turn back and dole out cash. If he had been actually hungry, he would have eaten the bagel. Even though it wasn't as good as the bagels at some other places.

Sadly, I wasn't really surprised about this encounter. Ben and I are often panhandled when out and about at work. Most of these people are harmless, wanting only cash, freely given, and are no threat to steal, especially on a crowded street in broad daylight. After all, my office is on the route between two places that serve the homeless. The first is The Community Kitchens of Birmingham, which has a location at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church. They serve lunch every single day, with no questions asked or other information needed. The second is Highlands United Methodist Church, which serves food in the morning and has a laundry facility open to people on the street. Both of these churches really put feet to their faith, and I am so proud to know they are here in this community, where the need is great.

To our inquisitive outside neighbors, I often just respond with "I'm sorry, I don't have any cash," which is usually true. Ben sometimes responds with, "I am married, and therefore I don't have any money," which is also usually true.

But I tried this time, and was rejected. And I got to eat my bagel. Win, win.

Thursday, October 18, 2012


Anna June has learned that because sometimes her parents are indecisive, she can get whatever she wants, especially when it comes to food.

A couple of weeks ago, she asked to go to Great Wall Chinese restaurant. We decided we'd go Sunday, after church, and take advantage of their lunch special.

Actually, AJ referred to it as "Great Mall," which we think would be an excellent name for a Chinese food court establishment.

We went, we ate, and when it was time to leave, I paid. The cashier asked if AJ liked her soup, which was all she ordered. I told her that yes, she loved the egg drop soup, but then ate half of my honey chicken as well. I also mentioned to the cashier that it had been AJ's suggestion that we visit the place again. She really likes the dragon on the ceiling.

The cashier, though, was very pleased that a little kid not only liked Chinese food and was willing to try new things but would also make a restaurant recommendation that her parents would accept. (I didn't tell her we were only there because it was Sunday and Chick-fil-A was closed.)

She wanted to give AJ a token of her appreciation, and asked if she'd like an umbrella. AJ was confused. She's already the proud owner of an umbrella, and it wasn't raining. The lady returned with a drink umbrella, and AJ was fascinated.

When we got home, I cut off the sharp end, and then she played with it for a while. Then, she asked that it be put in her drink, as I had explained the decorative purpose of the tiny umbrella.

Appropriately, she chose a blue Hawaiian Punch. This kid is going to do great in fashion or interior design, even just as hobbies - her use of color and composition continues to blow me away.

I hope this tropical drink and the smiling kid make your day seem brighter. It's quite dreary here and we may need to use real umbrellas today.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


Anna June surprised us in the car last night.

"Guess what I found out," she said.

"Dorothy is Jew-iss."

This was not news to us. In fact, I had just asked her teacher what they were going to do about the upcoming "holiday" photos, as the Santa shown on the poster wouldn't be appropriate for everyone. This is a new sort of issue for us, having spent all of AJ's life in a Christian daycare center, where there was racial, but not religious, diversity.

We talked about how it's not a big deal, and we love Dorothy, etc.

So I asked the next question I could think of. "Do you know anyone else who has a different religion?"

"Well, Shiloh says he was born in Minnesota, but I don't believe him."

We let the conversation die after that. I couldn't think of anything else to say, rushed, exhausted, and trying to help AJ pronounce the word "Jewish."

And then I thought, well, if Shiloh's ancestors are Vikings fans, I bet our Packers-loving relatives may tend to agree with AJ when saying that he was of a different religion! 

Monday, October 15, 2012


Anna June loves all holidays for their own unique reasons, but when she was asked at school today which holiday was her favorite, she quickly arrived at an answer.

"This year it will be Christmas," she reports she said.

She asked if I could guess why. I listed lots of reasons: Grandpa and Grammy's planned visit, getting and giving gifts, the possibility of snow and singing songs. She agreed those things were nice, but that wasn't her big reason.

She gave me a hint. "Whaaa, Whaaa," she pretended to cry.

"Baby Jesus," I guessed, hoping that lessons about the reason for the season had finally sunk in.

"Nooooo," she said.

Finally, it hit me. "Oh! This year you're getting a baby cousin!"

She nodded, clearly pleased.

I had to agree with her. The nephew on the way is definitely what I'm looking forward to the most, too.

On a separate note, Halloween is coming soon, and we may have settled on being a butterfly. She has wings, so we're getting there.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Getting In on the Conversation

Anna June is often left out when the adults are talking. Often, on Saturdays, we're talking about football.

Actually, we don't really watch much football. We just don't have time - it's pretty time-consuming, so unless there's a game on TV at whatever event we're attending, we may catch a headline or the highlights on the news.

But the guys at Ben's office make football predictions, and it's fun for us to watch the scores come in to see if they're right. Trash-talking texts sometime are exchanged based on the strength of picks.

Yesterday, Ben was telling us that Auburn lost (again), Bama won (again), and our alma mater, UAB, lost (again). Our iPhones allow us to catch scores as they come in, and the subject of which team is winning is often randomly hollered out during moments of family downtime, like dinner.

After the litany of who was beating whom, AJ spoke up. "Atlanta is beating Texas," she said.

I told her that Atlanta plays on Sundays, and she said, "Oh, I knew that."

Still, I needed to check the Falcons' schedule just to be sure. They are having a great year, but they don't play the Texans. Or else I'd have had to put money on Atlanta.

They do play the Dallas Cowboys on 11/4, though, just in case you need that tip.

Two Cuties

On Saturday morning, Anna June reported that one of her fancy headbands had broken. Since she has tons more and rarely wears them anyway, I wasn't upset.

But the we attended the "Bizzare Bazaar" craft fair at our church. AJ's friend Dorothy from her class at school lives a block away from the church and walked down with her family. The girls had a blast playing, eating, and shopping.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Let Someone Else Do the Talking

Anna June is fine, and we've had a busy week. Busy, actually doesn't accurately describe it. I think I'm freaking out a little.

Anyway, rather than not having a post today, I thought I'd let some of our new friends do the talking for us. Here are two video segments that were broadcast this week on our local news about the "revitalization" of Avondale School. You can also call it "re-integration," but we want to focus on the revitalization part. Luckily, the interview doesn't make it sound like we came in to save our school, because we didn't. We just want to be a part of the community in a very basic way.

Video #1
Video #2

Thanks to Angus' mom, Dorothy's mom, and Parks' dad for being willing to be interviewed. It's a hard thing to talk about. But we think we're in the right place, at the right time. And we're glad that they seem to be having similar great experiences.

Even this morning as AJ had a birthday bouquet of flowers for her beloved Mrs. D., she told me that she wished she still went to McElwain. I told her that as parents, we have to make a lot of tough decisions. We have a lot of good choices of places to send her to learn, and we think we've made the right choice for our family, for now.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

AJ, yesterday

Some stylish leggings with, gasp, sneakers. Don't say anything to her about the shoes- they were her idea.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Memory Lane

Anna June spent the night with Nana and Granddaddy, because Ben had a colonoscopy scheduled for 6 AM this morning. In planning our week, I just didn't see how I'd be able to wake AJ up early and get her to school and be at the surgery center at the same time, so I asked for help, and they were glad to oblige.

According to reports, AJ didn't sleep long, but she slept well. She got up early and made biscuits, served with homemade plum jam. I'm a little jealous, as I'm typing from the waiting room eating vending machine peanut butter and crackers.

Ben is in recovery now and all is well.

During our long wait to be called, and before we got the wi-fi password, we took a look at some of the great pictures we have saved on this laptop. We have some gems. Here are a few - enjoy the trip down memory lane.

Sunday, October 7, 2012


Anna June loves making crafts. We have lots of projects happening around here, and she just loves them.

If she could pick one social network to join, it would be Pinterest. She loves looking over my shoulder as I browse, and I love it when she sees something I pinned (for her) and wants to try it.

Today, our project was snack butterflies. I had seen this pinned many times and didn't think anything of it. But AJ had mentioned something about her friend Ida having something with a clothespin. I asked her mom, and she mentioned she had made a ziplock into a butterfly with a clothespin.

So I pinned butterfly snacks. The idea seems to have originated with Family Fun magazine, but who knows? These could be made for class/team treats, or for party favors.

Though the photo we saw showed green grapes and yellow goldfish, we already had red grapes, and I got AJ to agree that they would be ok. Then, she insisted on rainbow colored goldfish. I thought they coordinate well with the red grapes.

We had some green paint left from another project, so that was an easy decision. Granny just sent AJ some pipe cleaners, so I thought we'd put them to good use. I think this turned out pretty cute!

What was not cute was the tantrum. Earlier, I had told AJ that we could still go to Dollar Tree in search of google eyes for the butterfly, but after that we'd still have to go grocery shopping, eat dinner, and clean her room. Her room was so trashed it took 45 minutes to set it back to rights. To me, that precluded craft time. To AJ, it did not.

Our compromise was that I could read to her while she painted, thus accomplishing our mandated 20-minute story time and her self-imposed snack butterfly deadline.

She decided to let me finish the insect after bedtime to allow the paint to dry. I hope she will be pleased.

If not, there can always be another project.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Be Glad

Last night was an exhaustion-induced scream fest/tantrum-laden horror show. Be glad you weren't here.

Rolling By

The days for Anna June are just rolling by! Actually, for the adults, they feel like a whirlwind, hurricane, or tornado depending on the day. Work has been killer for both of us lately. Late nights, emails and phone calls at home, and dropping into bed completely exhausted. Poor AJ - her mama is turning into a zombie.

Regardless, Anna June's Granny sent some Pinkalicious roller skates, complete with a helmet and pads. We've been to the park once to try them out. We'll have to go back when we have more time.

Like when she's 20.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Headache

Anna June has had great fun for the past week seeing me donning scarves and a baseball cap to cover up the staples in my head. Yes, that's right. Staples.

Last Tuesday, I had a couple of cysts removed from my scalp in my dermatologist's office. The procedure went fine, although the local anesthetic started to wear off on the second pass of the second incision. Luckily, I'm old enough to know what that is and I advocated for myself, "I'm starting to feel that!" I was re-mubed. Because of some unanticipated bleeding - I think she nicked a blood vessel when stitching me up - I ended up with staples instead of dissolving stitches.

I felt like Frankenstein's monster, just in time for Halloween.

This has caused me a headache for over a week. It felt, like the nurse said it would, like someone was pulling my hair. Constantly. In two places.

I have also discovered that I have exactly 6 different non-winter scarves. I looked quite the gypsy all week. My co-workers made fun of me, until they figured out what happened. Then, they were exceedingly polite.

It hurts to lean over, wince, and laugh, and also certain ways I move my head. I've finally toughed it out to sleep on my right side, which I wasn't doing at first.

This has, of course, dispelled any vague notions of elective plastic surgery I may have had. In the good news column, this may have actually given me a slight facelift anyway.

For your sakes, I did not allow any pictures, not of the staples or the scarves.

The staples were removed this morning. I asked the nurse how long I could expect to be sore. "A while," she said.

Until further notice, I have a headache. 

Monday, October 1, 2012


Anna June had another birthday party to attend this weekend, this time at the new iJump facility in our neighborhood. The story of this place is kinda neat -  from what I gathered, our movie theater, The Edge, noticed that there wasn't a lot for kids to do in Crestwood. They wanted to augment the idea of birthday parties at the movies with a place for kids to run around, so they built The Edge Kids Zone across the parking lot.

Before they even opened, iJump 280 bought it. It was a great deal for everyone - iJump was already in that market, and they'd have minimal start up costs.

Anna June's friend and classmate, Angus, had his 5th birthday party there. His mom admitted to feeling a little guilty for having a pre-packaged party, but after seeing how easy it was, she may not go back to the DIY way.

Because it is still new, it is clean. There are lots of features from the other iJump - a parent lounge with TVs, a snack bar, a rock-climbing wall, arcade games, and, of course, inflatables.

The feature that makes this one different, though, is the giant climbing structure that included a ball pit. Actually, it included 2. (My guess is that the smaller one was intended for smaller children.)

Ball pits have become sort of a relic, since they are difficult to clean. But this was always the most fun part of Chuck E. Cheese for us when we were kids (or Showbiz Pizza, if we can show our age).

As soon as she got in the ball pit, AJ hollered, "Bazinga!" a la Sheldon Cooper. Here's a link to that clip again - you may need something hilarious on a Monday morning.

Regardless, AJ and her friends got to jump, play, climb, scream and explore for about an hour, then there was pizza, cake and ice cream. Then there were arcade games. AJ won a few tickets, but our luck was just not with us on Saturday. We kept choosing games that didn't work. That was the only complaint I had, for sure.

Here's the interesting part of the tale - this was AJ's first drop-off party, but I didn't drop her off. There are a few reasons for this.

1. First time in a new place. Even with old friends, AJ gets a little nervous and shy.
2. She wasn't feeling the best. I know I shouldn't have taken her, but it was her first birthday party for an Avondale friend, and I didn't want her to be the only one at school on Monday that didn't get to go. I wanted to see the new place. We had already bought and wrapped the gift ahead of schedule. And when there's a choice between letting her be active and staying home and watching tv, well, activity wins out in my mind.
(She had a cough, and almost had a temperature, but we gave her tylenol and she seemed better.)
3. I actually enjoy talking to the other parents. And I love pizza, cake and ice cream.
4. If I didn't stay, the errands and housework awaiting me weren't very appealing. (I'm also a little under the weather, but at work nonetheless.)

I was glad I stayed, in the end. I had some lovely conversations with parents and assorted relatives of the birthday boy, including this judicial candidate. AJ kept hollering to me, "Hey mom, watch this!" It was fun to watch her interact with her friends. And AJ wore her tennis shoes - voluntarily, but she regretted the decision as I silently predicted she would. Getting her shoes back on is something I would certainly not wish on Angus' mother. I was also glad I was there to help advocate for more tokens, ask the manager to fix the broken game, and make sure her face got wiped after eating cake. She straddles the line between little kid and big kid...she may not be quite ready for me to leave her at a birthday party.

Maybe next time, though.